James J. Braddock was born on June 7th, 1905, to Irish immigrant parents Joseph Braddock and Elizabeth O'Toole Braddock in a tiny apartment on West 48th Street in New York City. The Braddock family was growing and with five boys and two girls, Joseph and Elizabeth relocated across the Hudson River to the peaceful township of West New York in Hudson County New Jersey. Like most kids, Jimmy enjoyed playing marbles, baseball and hanging around the old swimming hole on the edge of the Hudson River or under the Hackensack River Bridge while he dreamt of someday becoming a fireman or a train engineer. From around the year 1919 to 1923, Jim Braddock worked a series of jobs: A messenger boy for Western Union, a printer's devil, a teamster and an errand boy in a silk mill. It was during this time that Jimmy discovered his passion for boxing, the story of which is chronicled in the movie Cinderella Man.
My grandmother, Alice Conway was born 17 Jul 1880, in Newport, Mayo, Ireland, in the civil parish of Burrishoole. She was one of ten children born to Michael Conway and Rose Mullowny, both of County Mayo, Ireland. Eight of the ten Conway children immigrated to America. My grandmother immigrated to Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio in 1897, when she was just 16 or 17 years old. One of her brothers sent the ticket for her older sister to come to America, but at the last minute her sister got cold feet, so my grandmother took the ticket and came to America before her sister could change her mind. She married my grandfather, Thomas Joseph Moran, also from County Mayo, on 16 Oct 1901, in Cleveland, Ohio. They had ten children and forty-three grandchildren. During the great depression, my grandmother would feed the men who came to her back door looking for food or work. Although her family also struggled during these years, she never turned anyone away. When asked how she could feed not only her family, but the men who came to her door, she would answer; "What's one more potato in the pot?" My grandmother was a resilient woman. When her husband didn't want to buy a house, she forged his signature and bought one anyway. It was a double house and she rented out the upper half. The woman who lived upstairs had a habit of telling my grandfather whenever anything went wrong or needed to be repaired. He grew tired of her complaints, and one day he asked her why she kept telling him about her problems. She said it was because he owned the house—and that is how he found out that he was a home owner! My grandmother attended mass every morning. She never learned to drive and walked to church every day, rain or shine. She lived to be almost 95 years old. She died on 3 Mar 1975, leaving behind a legacy of love, laughter and faith.
My grandfather, Thomas Joseph Moran, was born in Mulranny, Mayo, Ireland, on 20 Dec 1873 (Ireland birth records incorrectly list his birth as 10 Dec 1873). He is the fourth of six children born to Michael Moran and Bridget Conway. His parents and brothers, James and Patrick, and sisters Anne, Mary, and Bridget all immigrated to Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States, although not all at the same time. Thomas Moran met Alice Conway of Newport, also born in Mayo, Ireland, in Cleveland, Ohio, They married on 16 Oct 1901. Tom and Alice had ten children; Mary "Mae", Lillian, Thomas, Jr., Frank, Gilbert, Raymond, John "Jack", Robert, Donald, and Alice Rita. They had 42 grandchildren. Thomas was "beat cop" for the Cleveland Police Department, Four of his seven sons and one grandson followed in his footsteps and also became Cleveland Police Officers. Two other sons became Cleveland Firefighters. His eldest son, Thomas Jr., went on to earn a law degree and after 27 years on the Cleveland Police force he became a Cuyahoga County Prosecutor. Thomas died on 28 Apr 1944, in Cleveland, Ohio. He was 71 years old.
John Baird was born about 1805 in Ireland. He married Catherine Fullerton and emigrated from Ireland to America in 1848 as part of the mass migration due to the potato blight famine. As with many Irish immigrants, including the McConaghys, the Baird family settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They first appear in the 1850 census living next door to the Morton family, which married into the Baird family. The Bairds lived in Philadelphia until 1853 when they moved west to Northern California along with others seeking their fortunes. John and Catherine Baird were the parents of six children: Hugh (b. 1827), Rosetta (b. about 1827) married William Kirkpatrick Morton, Charles J. (b. in 1831) married Jane Hill, Mary Jane Baird (b. in 1832) married William John McConaghy, Nancy Baird (b. in 1834) married Neal Hill. In the 1850 Philadelphia Census it was apparent that Bairds lived next to families of close friends and relatives. They migrated together, lived nearby, worked together, and intermarried as they moved westward together.
James McConaghy was born about 1799 in Ireland. He and his family were the first McConaghy family members to arrive in America in 1847. James McConaghy came with his wife Margaret Christy and their sons William John and Neil A. McConaghy. It is likely other family members immigrated with them. In 1845 Ireland was in the middle of “The Great Famine” as well as political unrest. The McConagy family was part of great exodus that began in 1847. They settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1850 William John and Neil went to California for the Gold Rush. They helped settle Trinadad—near where the Ellis family began a mule supply train up the Klamath River during this same time period. Neil A. McConaghy went to California to mine for gold with his brother William John. In 1853 he moved south to San Lorenzo where he became a successful farmer. He married Sarah Ann McCaw and they were the parents of Archibald, Mary, John, Neil, Alexander, and John McConaghy (who lived to be 100 years old). John lived in the McConaghy House until his death. The home was donated to the Shriners Hospital. It was placed on the California Historical Society Registry and opened for tours.